HARARE – Simmering tensions within former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s struggling National People’s Party (NPP) boiled over yesterday when rash party spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire, viciously attacked and then allegedly threatened to kill her personal spin doctor, Gift Nyandoro, in incredible scenes which shocked guests at a Harare hotel.
The two NPP comrades-turned-enemies clashed over a reckless statement which was penned by Mawarire at the weekend, which stunned the country’s opposition movement — as it ran against the spirit of the planned grand coalition which is set to take on President Robert Mugabe and his warring Zanu PF in next year’s elections.
In the poorly-conceived statement, Mawarire launched an astonishing attack on opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, effectively describing him as “power drunk” — hugely damaging sentiments which Nyandoro subsequently tried to mitigate by saying these were Mawarire’s personal views and not NPP’s, as was his democratic right.
The battered Nyandoro told the Daily News yesterday that he had been horrified by Mawarire’s thuggish behaviour, which to compound Nyandoro’s pain, had come as the respected lawyer was also making burial arrangements for his recently-deceased mother.
He said he had been ambushed by his raving mad colleague after he made a quick “nature call” at a hotel in the avenues area, whereupon Mawarire had suddenly emerged and confronted him over a story which appeared in a local daily yesterday in which Nyandoro had gently pooh-poohed Mawarire’s clanger on Tsvangirai.
“I had just got into town, returning from Sanyati where I lost my mother, and I was running around making funeral arrangements. I wanted to use the toilet and so I went to the hotel.
“Jealousy appeared from nowhere and accused me of contradicting him. We exchanged words, and I was confused because I did not understand the basis of his rants.
“As far as I am aware, I am not sure of any party position attacking any opposition leader over the formation of a grand coalition. I was stunned.
“He also accused me of trying to make sure that he (Mawarire) does not get elected in the party’s top six. He was charging towards me saying he wanted to shoot me,” the shaken Nyandoro told the Daily News.
“A light-skinned and dreadlocked woman, whom I presumed to be his wife, tried to restrain him. He then went to his car . . . however, he did not take his gun.
“He returned, whereupon he kicked me on the kneecap. I fell and hit a pavement. He then came on top of me and tried to hit me on the face.
“He also tried to reach for my privates but I held his hands firm because I knew I was immobilised. He tried to strangle me and only the intervention of three men saved me.
“After realising that I could not stand up, he then fled in a silver Mercedes Benz,” Nyandoro added.
“We are going to make a police report, but we could not rush to the police before I received medical attention.
“In the same vein, I have not told the president (Mujuru) because what is important is first to get attention from doctors,” he said.
On his part, Mawarire was quick to issue a press statement in which he claimed that Nyandoro had no mandate to speak on behalf of the party.
Curiously too, he did not mention his public altercation with his colleague.
“It should be noted that…Nyandoro is…Mujuru’s spokesperson and his duties do not include speaking on behalf of the party.
“Although, as a senior party member . . . Nyandoro is aware of the party position on different issues, his brief as presidential spokesperson does not include speaking on behalf of the party.
“The National People’s Party, as we have previously stated, is committed to working with all democratic parties but would not be dragged into joining the (President Robert) Mugabe initiated and Didymus Mutasa broadcasted, coalition leader endorsement mantra (sic) which seeks to anoint a leader outside a proper, democratic and people- driven process,” Mawarire thundered.
When the Daily News tried to reach him to hear his version of his altercation with Nyandoro, he was not picking up his phone.
But earlier in the week, Mawarire had rattled the NPP’s prospective coalition partners within the opposition after he slammed what he termed desperation, ostensibly on Tsvangirai’s part to have him endorsed as the leader of the planned coalition.
“The desperation to have Tsvangirai as the coalition leader is manifest in some contrived and funny endorsements by politically tainted people like (Zimbabwe People First elder Didymus) Mutasa who, only yesterday, were fighting tooth and nail to stall any progress that we were making to ensure an MoU (memorandum of understanding) between our parties was signed.
“It should, however, be made abundantly clear that Mujuru and NPP are amenable to a coalition but we are against individuals who are so power drunk to the extent of wanting to be endorsed by questionable characters who have no political party, have a dirty and murderous past and are known now for their desperate attempts at getting back to good terms with Mugabe,” Mawarire said in his ill-conceived statement.
“It is imperative that political parties form a coalition but it is politically dangerous to have characters that are so desperate to lead the coalition that they don’t want a democratic process to select the leader of the coalition.
“We don’t want leaders who are so power drunk that they would turn a Nera (The National Electoral Reform Agenda) platform into an endorsement pedestal even from people that we know are working with the ruling party to foil any prospects of the opposition going into the next election as a united front,” he added, in the injudicious reaction to the ringing endorsements that Tsvangirai had received from other opposition leaders.
It was these reckless statements which Nyandoro subsequently repudiated and which sparked yesterday’s ugly public brawl.
The Daily News was not able to speak to Mujuru — who has suffered a string of political misfortunes, including working with many flawed characters around her over the past few months — before going to Press.